Needs of Diabetics

Diabetes Patients and the Insulin Kit

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The diabetic who uses insulin should have certain equipment in an insulin kit in hand all the time:

1. Insulin

The kind prescribed by his doctor in the right concentration. An extra vial or two must be kept in reserve in a cool place. Every diabetic must also have a vial of regular insulin on hand during emergencies like acidosis or coma.

2. Syringe

The standard insulin syringe sanctioned by the American Diabetes Association and produced by Becton, Dickinson and Co. of New Jersey is preferred. One-cc. models are available for either U40 or U80 concentrations of insulin. The U40 model has the unit graduations branded in red; the U80 model is branded in green. The colors match the stoppers of the corresponding insulin vials. All U40 vials bear red circles on the stoppers. Stoppers of the U80 vials bear green circles. A like syringe is the Vim, produced by the MacGregor Instrument Company. The syringe utilized should be matched to the strength of the insulin, since this would prevent mistakes in dosage. Diabetics who require 80 to 160 units of insulin every day will find that the 2-cc. standard U80 syringe is quite useful. There are even special syringes for blind diabetics. In every case, an extra syringe must be kept on hand against the possibility of loss or breakage.

3. Hypodermic Needle

The needle must be of medical grade,  1/2 to 5/8 inches long. It should be 25- to 26-gauge. A finer gauge, like 27, can be used only with regular and globin insulin. The other insulins will tend to clog. Twenty-five- to 26-gauge needles, all the same, can be used with any insulin. As for the type of point, an average beveled point retains its sharpness better than the more expensive Huber point. A spare supply of needles should always be kept on hand since needles may bend or break and, in any event, usually become dull after about two weeks' use.

4.  A Sterile Case For Syringe And Needle

This is convenient for home base use and is all important for travel. Elaborate outfits are available, but the simplest is perhaps the B-D Steritube No. 300 (No. 350 for larger syringes) or the Vim case. These may be sterilized by boiling along with the syringe and needle. Filled up with alcohol, the interiors would remain sterile for one to two weeks and will hold the syringe and needle sterile for that time.

5. Alcohol And Sterile Cotton

These are all important for sterilization of the top of the insulin vial which would be punctured by the needle and for the site of the injection. Pure grain ethyl alcohol is not necessary. Denatured and isopropyl alcohol-ordinary rubbing alcohol—does the job just as thoroughly and is less expensive.

6. Ampules Of Adrenalin, 1-1000 Solution

These must be on hand for diabetics who are especially susceptible to insulin shock and live a considerable distance from a physician or hospital. They should likewise be kept on hand for emergencies by diabetics who travel to areas where a doctor or hospital might not be available.

7. Tests For Urinary Sugar

Clinitest, Clinistix, Galatest, or Tes-Tape are available. Because daily urine tests are necessary in a great multiple cases, one of these is necessity equipment. Clinistix only shows the presence or absence of sugar. The others also show the amount of sugar.

8. Tests For Urinary Acetone

The majority of mild diabetics probably won't need this but, in any event, two reasonably simple tests are available—Acetest and Acetone Test Powder. One of these must be kept on hand for emergencies and in those more extreme cases where acetone tests are crucial.

9.  An Identification Card

Every diabetic who takes insulin must carry a card with his name, address, and phone number as well as those of his doctor. The card too, should state that he is diabetic and should bear the following request:

"If I am unconscious or behaving abnormally I may be having an insulin reaction".  "If I can swallow, give me sugar, candy, fruit juice or a sweetened drink. If I cannot swallow or do not recover promptly, call a physician or send me to the hospital at once."

Standard cards could be obtained without charge from any local affiliate of the American Diabetes Association.

These nine pieces of equipment are essential for the diabetic who takes insulin. They should furnish him with all he needs to handle the disease. Many other things are made and sold but, except in special cases, are generally unnecessary and only succeed in adding expense and clutter to the diabetic's life.

There are, for example, several automatic injectors for diabetics who are reluctant to push a needle into themselves. This should be avoided unless perfectly necessary because it adds an unnecessary gadget and may contaminate the needle.

 More on diabetes:

The Development of Insulin

Medical History: Insulin Origins